Monday, May 11, 2009

if you want to know the true value of your life, ride a scooter taxi in jakarta.

sorry mom and dad you may not want to read this.
so i reserved a little cottage on an island in the thousand island chain. i really hope that's where the salad dressing comes from. i found a travel agent online because i couldn't be bothered to figure this out by myself and travel alone so i ordered a package deal that includes round trip boat, meals, drinks (non-alcoholic, did i mention i'm not drinking on this trip? feels good!) and my own little hut on the beach. royale.
so they tell me a courier is coming to the office to pick up the $100 bucks i owe and i sure hope this isn't some sort of scam where they take my money and i spend my long weekend at the pier. anyway, i need a million rupiah, stat. i was going to just stop somewhere on my way home but pak tri insisted on taking me right away. we walk to a few ATMs nearby and they are out of order. the ambassador mall is nearby, i'll stop in on my way home. no! he says, let's go now. we'll take a scooter! it's only 5,000 we'll be there and back in 10 minutes. so, now i know what all those guys what's 10 times cheaper, 5 times faster and a million times more scary than a regular taxi? a scooter taxi.
i'm all let's do it! pak tri takes off on his scooter, and it's like a race. i'm a total amateur and hop on before the guy even starts the thing or gets it off the kickstand and he's like, duh. i reach out to take the helmet he's holding and realize it's his, not mine. i get nothing.
i hold onto this smelly guy like we are bracing for war. i figured his intent really wasn't to kill us, but he sure tried. but then again, if i die he doesn't get paid so...let's just get there really fast so he can make his money! i don't think i saw his head turn once, even slighty, to look for oncoming traffic when we crossed four lanes of speeding traffic or were stuck in the middle of 3 merging cars. we leaned around curves (i'm real bad at this) and i would lift my arms and bring my bag in every time we almost clipped a rearview mirror.
pedestrians ran across the street and we would keep the same speed and just beeeeeeeeep and swerve. at one point he was walking the scooter with me on it between a stopped bus and truck and we just blindly zipped into a lane of traffic without even knowing what was coming. the motor was a loud wheeeeeeee as my life flashed before me, my parents, my brother, my cat and my softball team, all waving at me in some sort of dream. we caught up to pak tri who pointed at me and thought this was hilarious, probably because my skirt was flying everywhere.
we totally beat him to the mall, yet he made it there just in time to end my haggling with the driver who was trying to charge me triple. he kept saying more! more! no fucking way dude! my heart was beating a million times a minute. it was awesome!
we cross the messy snarled traffic to the mall. the jakarta traffic signals are like this: police officer with cool white helmet with long red pole (i found out they light up, like the toy light sabers) waves cars across, when he wants to let pedestrians go he walks out onto the street and holds out his arms and tries and stop the cars - many of them sneak through, especially the mopeds and as he screams at them, it's your chance to cross. you run quickly and when the cars start to get anxious and the mopeds start revving he screams loud and fast balbalalalbalala and shakes his red pole in the air. that's when you run or get run over.
after all this i must have looked a little stressed out when pak tri asked, do you want to take a taxi back? hell no!
i got an even smellier dude this time, and he had one of those cool old skool vietnam era bowl helmets and was smoking a cigarette. we were back in the office in 10 minutes, just like pak tri said. i thought of all the people who risk their life for the thrill of bungee jumping, sky diving, race car driving, and thought, suckers, that only cost me 50 cents!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Après tout ce qu'on a fait pour toi, tu exagères de me donner des angoisses le jour de la fête des Mères ! Mais je note que tu as une pensée pour nous durant cette folle équipée ...